How Much Does Your Appearance Matter?

Everyone knows the importance of appearance in romantic and social situations. We have often heard about its importance in business.  “Clothes make the man,” “Her face is her fortune” and other sayings are familiar.  The majority probably accept the idea that your appearance makes a difference in certain situations.  But how much of a difference?  Research by economists, social psychologists and human resources experts all point to the same answer.  Your appearance can make a substantial difference in:

  • appearance and employment-waiting for an interviewEmployment
  • Income
  • Business success
  • Personal relations

Let’s consider a few examples.

Appearance and Employment

As highlighted in “Could Your Looks Affect Your Career?” on this site, Newsweek surveyed 202 junior and senior corporate hiring managers and reported:

Fifty-seven percent of hiring managers told Newsweek that qualified but unattractive candidates are likely to have a harder time landing a job, while more than half advised spending as much time and money on “making sure they look attractive” as on perfecting a résumé…Asked to rank employment attributes in order of importance, meanwhile, managers placed looks above education.

Cornell University published an in-depth article summarizing years of studies on the effect of appearance on hiring decisions.  Its authors wrote:

those with a better appearance get hired fasterGiven the high-stakes nature of job acquisition, many researchers have asked, for example, whether attractive job candidates are more likely to be hired than their peers. Overwhelmingly, the answer is yes… Furthermore, physically attractive job candidates are also offered higher starting salaries than their less attractive peers.

Research cited by Cornell HR Review found that more attractive employees received better evaluations.  Probably because of that they were also more likely than less attractive peers to be promoted to management positions.  Clearly, appearance can have a big impact on the careers and income of both men and women.  This is particularly true for those in business.

Appearance and Business

Research by Arizona State University marketing professor Cheryl Jarvis revealed that even doctors prescribing medication, a highly objective decision, could not escape the powerful influence of appearance.  Her study had physicians rate the appearance of pharmaceutical salespeople who called on them.  For every point of increased attractiveness, sales of prescription medications they represented grew by:

  • attractive appearance helps make sales2.94% for new business
  • 1.28% with established customers

In one projection, increasing attractiveness ratings by 1 point increased sales by $20,340/year.  Please see “Improving your Appearance – Could It Improve Your Income?” on this site.

Influencing Others

Study after study reveals “the halo effect,” where good qualities are attributed to those with attractive faces.  Research at Boston University and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute revealed that attractive women with birthmarks or complexion issues were judged as much more competent by those who saw photos of them wearing “professional” or even “glamor” makeup levels than the same women were when shown barefaced.  Details from this study highlighted in The New York Times are found in “People First Judge Your Competence by Your Face.”

World renowned influence expert Dr. Robert Cialdini stated:

Research has shown that we automatically assign to good-looking individuals such favorable traits as talent, kindness, honesty, and intelligence…Furthermore, we make these judgments without being aware that physical attractiveness plays a role in the process.

Other studies have shown that the measurable advantage awarded to those who are very good-looking pales when compared to the disadvantages assigned to those who are below average in attractiveness.  University of Texas at Austin researchers Angela Griffin and Judith Langlois summed up their findings:

Unattractive faces were rated as significantly less sociable, less altruistic and less intelligent than medium attractive faces, which in turn were rated as less sociable than attractive faces.

This could explain the findings economists Daniel Hamermesh and Jeff Biddle highlighted in a landmark 1994 scientific paper.  They discussed American and Canadian studies that interviewed people about their circumstances while the researcher discreetly rated them for attractiveness.  As a Forbes article describes:

The ratings were on a scale of one (best) to five (worst). In the larger of the two American samples 15% of interviewees were rated “quite plain” or “homely”–categories four and five.

Hamermesh and Biddle found that men in the top two categories enjoyed incomes 5% above those of men rated merely average in appearance. The unfortunate fellows in the two bottom categories were paid 9% below the average. The results for women workers were somewhat similar, except that the workplace effects were smaller.

Perhaps the unconscious assessment of less-attractive people as being less competent, intelligent, friendly and socially adept resulted in them being less likely to be favored by employers and prospective customers.  Since science proves the adage, “first impressions last,” these negative assessments could have plagued less-attractive people for years.

Appearance Clearly Matters

Science makes it clear that facial appearance can make a big difference in hiring, evaluations, promotions and sales.  It is not just those born on the lower end of the attractiveness scale that experience these disadvantages.  One woman interviewed on the Today Show said, “When I turned 40 I became invisible.”  As her looks faded with age, her influence with others faded as well.

Experienced plastic and facial plastic surgeons are often highly adept at restoring good looks at affordable prices.  This can often be done without surgery.  The doctors listed in Expert Doctors by Location offer free private consultations.  Why not contact one today?

Before & After facelifts by Dr. Brian Machida & Dr. Arnold Almonte

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About Larry Rondeau, Managing Editor

Larry Rondeau, Managing Editor at LookYounger.News, is a medical and science writer who is highly experienced in writing about facial rejuvenation procedures, psychology and business. He was mentored by renowned social psychologist, researcher and author Dr. Robert Cialdini, who praised him for his "depth of insight." SUNY Lecturer Peter Pociluyko spoke of Larry's "deep understanding and comprehension of the concepts of social psychology." Larry won 4 national awards while at The Allied Group, where he served as Senior Director of Business Development and later Senior Director of Research and Content Development. ( read more )

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